Blogs on social issues and development of the city have many takers , finds Nita Sathyendran
A while ago blogs caught the fancy of the tech savvy across the world and those in the city too (more than 200 bloggers in the city now on the last count). What started with Gen Y’s take on news and views, quickly mushroomed to encompass all aspects of life and society as we know it. Many blogs are a kind of cribbers’ platforms. But there are also many blogs on development and social issues, highlighting the positive rather than the negative aspects of development, infrastructure and life in the city. In fact, there are quite a number of such blogs operating with the tagline of ‘investing in Thiruvananthapuram’ (both literally and figuratively) and they have quite wide a readership. All of them are specifically aimed at keeping tabs on city-centric issues and promoting the city as a premier destination for investment, tourism and quality of life. These blogs are also increasingly emerging as forums where concerned citizens can get-together to asses the city’s progress and shortcomings too.
Platform for discussion
“Blogs that focus on developmental issues, updates on investments and development plans can create an image that can possibly bring a good environment for investment. And that’s not just about infrastructure-related blogs. It could also be a blog on tourism potential, restaurants reviews, a photo blog on the city and the like. As a platform, blogs can bring like-minded people together to discuss and debate on collective action,” says Nikhil Narayanan, a native of the city and a marketing analytics consultant based in Bangalore, who blogs as ‘Nikhil’s musings’ on issues relating mostly to Kerala.
Management professional Ajay Prasad whose blog –‘trivandrumrising’ is a heavy-duty one on development issues, plans and infrastructure relating to the city adds: “Our main intention through these blogs is to raise awareness for local issues such as the Vizhinjam project, airport development, city roads, the zoo and so on. We also want to get people to form informed opinions based on what they have read and perhaps in the future participate in some form of collective action to improve some aspect of the city.”
City-based bloggers, in fact, created quite stir during the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 when some of them took to the cyberworld to advance the chances of candidate Sashi Tharoor. How far they were successful is still debatable but create an impact they did. The main problem then with the blogs is that they suffer from a lack of credibility. “That’s because there is still a lack of proper awareness of what exactly are blogs. A few years or perhaps even a few months down the line blogs will be more or less be like a one-stop shop for all kinds of issues, what with opinions, comments and all,” says software engineer N. V. Brahma Prakash, who blogs as ‘tvmtalkies’ on a variety of issues with considerable content on local issues. “The city is part of my identity. I am just trying to involve myself in the community I live in. But that does not mean I want to sell the city for all its worth or bring lots more people here, after all the Ulloor-Sreekaryam road is already crowded!” he adds with a laugh.
‘Trivandrum Fast Forward’ by Nishanth Nair, a management professional working in the retail sector, meanwhile is more or less like a photo blog catering exclusively to infrastructure developments and real estate projects in the city. “I also contribute to technoparktoday.com and I am a member of skyscrapercity.com forum where we have healthy discussions about latest happenings and projects. I think that the city has a sizeable number of people who are really interested seeing a well developed Kerala and the city in particular,” says Nishanth.
Such blogs, however, are notoriously difficult to write and considered quite boring by many netizens. Not to mention they have to be as accurate as possible. Anish Sahadevan, a male nurse who blogs as ‘scorpiogenius,’ opines that blogs still speak a hypophonic tone in India, unlike in the United States where they are parallel to mainstream media and as powerful and influential as the traditional press. “Most development blogs appear a tad dull for the majority. A small example is in my blog itself. According to my Google Analytics the most read articles on my blog are the three posts I wrote about films and movie stars! It takes considerable time and effort to draft posts like the Vizhinjam project but it still hasn’t got half the clicks the article on Mohanlal got. Still there is a surge in the interest generated by development blogs and forums, a sure sign of a change in the attitude of the populace.” he says.